SWG Has Something Your MMO Doesn’t…

…I’m not kidding.  An old, decrepit, half-dead MMO has something that seems so basic, so simple, so – necessary – and none of the big boys has even thought to implement it.

The chance to build a customer base.  To earn repeat buyers.  To actually have a business.

EVE doesn’t have it.  They are a step ahead with buy orders and contracts.  And that’s a start.  When I’m looking at BPC’s, once I find someone who has deals I like, I jot down their name and look for when their newest stuff comes up.  But I can’t go to their store.  I’m not even sure I can search by their name.  And even if I could, how can they communicate with me?  Give me a discount for continuing to buy from them?  Give me incentive to continue to go back to them?

And the other MMO’s?  They don’t even make it that far.  Some are just patently ridiculous.  I enjoy crafting, but I gave it up in Vanguard.  If it have to make a few hundred cloaks to advance a level, I’m not interested.  And I can’t sell them to anyone except to the vendor, for a scratch or maybe even a loss.  That’s not fun.  If you are going to invite players in your game to craft, to take part in the economy, then you need to do it in a way makes it fun for them to do so!

And now we come to the part of the post where I eat my own words.  Because I can’t stand Free Realms.  But at least there, when I go to cook something, its fun to do.  Yes, its a mini game, and I’m not big on mini games.  Did I mention yet that I was eating my own words?

The businesses in SWG impressed me more than anything.  I drove out in the wilderness in my crappy starter speeder and started a few harvesting stations, all so that one day I might own my own business.  I loved wandering through the player owned city.  Checking out the shops and such.  I could search them on the index I’m sure, but it was fun to immerse myself in it. 

Its probably a pipe dream, because even SWG didn’t implement it all that great.  And we’re talking about a genre where some major titles can’t even be bothered to offer player housing of any sort (::cough cough:: WAR, WoW), or make housing available to every level of play from beginner on up (::cough cough:: LotRO, Vanguard). 

But I think it would be worth the investment and the experimentation for a game to be able to gives us that something that we haven’t had before.


6 thoughts on “SWG Has Something Your MMO Doesn’t…

  1. When your talking about the Eve context aside from the inability to purchase something from an individual player, is the lack of “quality”. Unless your trying to only buy things from your own corp/alliance it wouldnt matter since one Megathron is exactly the same as any other Megathron.

    In this context the only “quality” aspect or “why should I buy your item instead of someone elses” relates to location and bringing the item to the buyer.

    Love the idea though,

    1. HarbingerZero

      For straight up market buy orders, sure, your point is well taken. But contracts do offer something more. I keep an eye out for a particular guy’s contracts in Heimatar, because he always offers BPC’s with a high material research on them, something others don’t usually do, and that I’m willing to pay extra for the convenience of. There are others who do contracts as package deals – ships + modules, or even invention packs. All of these are marketing strategies that appeal to various player preferences and allow for variance in “quality.”

  2. I played SWG back in it’s heyday prior to the “CURB” in April 2005. The sandbox element of SWG allowed players to create goods of highly ranging levels of quality. I started a business because I thought that most of the people making medical supplies didn’t understand economics and manufacturing. At my peak, the community figured that I was supplying 85% of the medical supplies for the entire server population, running almost 60 factories 24 hours a day, seven days a week supplying five strategically placed outlets. I did customer surveys, held customer reward contests…it was a sandbox business.

    I controlled price and quality by harvesting the best quality, lower cost ingredients to make medical supplies in mass quantity that were as good as most hand-crafted, low volume manufacturers.

    I’ll never do that again, because while I had a blast, it was an enormous time sink. However, the interdependence that combatants had on crafters made for an amazing community. One of our swan songs was to hold and in-game event that raised $12,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society…which was entirely based on contributions of in-game crafters.

    1. Teach me your ways o great one! (-: You illustrate what I was trying to say perfectly though. You didn’t just craft, you had a *business.* Why is that so difficult do enact in an MMO?

  3. It wasn’t intended as a brag. It was intended to illustrate what’s possible if the developers provide the right framework. What I did wouldn’t have been possible without the vibrant economy that the SWG sandbox enviroment encouraged. There were other players that had more significant market dominance in other fields then I did in meds.

    I think the thing that makes it hard to recreate is that any game that’s a sandbox like SWG was is inherently hard to balance. In the early days of SWG we were constantly out innovating the devs. They never expected players to be able to solo the hardest mobs in the game…but that’s what player innovation made possible. It would be like a level 80 toon in WoW soloing the hardest end-game boss. Right before the Curb, players were making stuff with what should have been mid-grade raw materials that was a good as stuff made with great materials in the first few months of the servers going live.

    I think the hard collateral challenge is that the kind of innovation and creation that existing in early SWG isn’t something that anyone can just jump into and do. It wasn’t as bad as crafting in Vanguard, but as an example, it took me almost a year of hard work to build up the resources and infrastructure to do what I did. It’s not mass-market accessible….and I think that’s the curse that WoW has brought on us. It’s become the role model for MMO success, but while the content and balance in the game is excellent, it’s certainly nothing resembling a sandbox.

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